The development of electronic commerce and online services offers enormous potential for beneficial economic, social and societal change. The Internet economy creates 2.6 jobs for every “off-line” job lost, and offers a better choice to consumers, including those in rural and isolated areas. The gains brought by lower online prices and a wider choice of available products and services are estimated at EUR 11.7 billion, equivalent to 0.12 % of European GDP. If 15 % of retail sales were e-commerce and the obstacles to the internal market were removed, the gains for consumers might be as much as EUR 204 billion, or 1.7 % of European GDP.
The European Commission finds, however, that there are many obstacles preventing consumers and businesses from investing fully in online services: ignorance or uncertainty about the applicable rules, offers that lack transparency and are hard to compare, and payments and modes of delivery that are often expensive and unsuitable.
That is why, as part of the Digital Agenda and the Single Market Act and in response to the request from the European Council to submit a roadmap for the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2012, the Commission has today adopted a Communication presenting 16 targeted initiatives aimed at doubling the share of e-commerce in retail sales (currently 3.4 %) and that of the Internet sector in European GDP (currently less than 3 %) by 2015. By that year online trade and services could account for more than 20 % of growth and net job creation in some Member States (such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden).
Michel Barnier, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, and John Dalli, Commissioner for Consumer Policy, expressed their ambitious objective in these terms: “In the difficult circumstances facing Europe we must seize every source of activity and new jobs as a matter of urgency. The action plan we are presenting today will create new opportunities for citizens and businesses and will bring Europe much-needed growth and employment. It aims to remove the obstacles which until now have frustrated the development of Europe’s Internet economy.” Here to read more.